Mom gets ready for 1st Christmas without slain 11-year-old

December 24, 2019 GMT

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina woman is preparing to spend her first Christmas without her 11-year-old daughter, who was killed this summer when their home was peppered with dozens of bullets.

Mershella Rice knows that Ja’Naiya Scott would have asked for a mannequin for the holiday, she told the Anderson Independent-Mail. It’s something Ja’Naiya always wanted.

“She wanted to practice styling their hair,” Rice said. “She wanted to be a cosmetologist and have her own business. So she needed to practice hair and makeup. She wanted to be a lawyer, too — to do both. She had her whole little life planned out. But she didn’t get to live it.”

Ja’Naiya was killed six months ago when more than 35 bullets shot through her home in Anderson. One of the bullets cleaved through her shoulder and an artery, causing her to quickly lose a large amount of blood. Police arrived to find the family screaming for help. Ja’Naiya was declared dead less than an hour later. Her 18-year-old sister and 11-year-old cousin were wounded in the shooting and survived.

A 17-year-old was charged with murder in the shooting. Police still are searching for others they believe were involved.

“Someone had to drive him there; someone had to pick him up,” Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart said in a previous interview with the newspaper. “I’m convinced that there are people who know exactly what happened, exactly who is behind all of this, and they won’t talk.”

Authorities still haven’t recovered the semiautomatic rifle and pistol believed to have been used in the shooting. The investigation is ongoing and authorities are analyzing cellphone records to find a foothold in the case.

Meanwhile, the night that marks Santa’s trek across the sky for many will mark another filled with unrest for Rice.

“It makes you paranoid, you know?” Rice said. “Because you don’t know who is involved, you are always wondering who it might be. I worry about the rest of my family that is still here. Are they safe?”